It’s sooo hot out! But fear not: this strawberry cucumber mocktail will help you to cool down. It starts with an everything-but-the-kitchen sink shrub before being topped off with some cucumber soda. It’s easy, refreshing, and perfect for a summer barbecue or picnic.
You can also easily turn this into a cocktail by topping it off with some sparkling wine instead of soda.
What is a Shrub?
A shrub is a type of syrup that contains vinegar. I know it sounds weird, but there is a long history of people putting vinegar in drinks to make them safe to drink (if you don’t believe me, check out this article). Traditionally, shrubs also contain different types of fruits and even vegetables.
Shrubs are a great way to use fruit and veggies that might be bruised or not so fresh anymore because the vinegar masks any funky flavors. I made this one using some strawberries and a nectarine that were a bit too ripe to eat and the rind from an orange that had been hanging out in my fridge for ages. The original recipe, however, encourages you to use vegetable peels and scraps as well. So, go crazy!
The shrub that acts as the base for this strawberry cucumber mocktail is unusual in that it doesn’t contain any sugar. This is so that you have complete control over how sweet your spritzer or cocktail ends up being.
It’s also a fast shrub, meaning that you don’t need to steep the fruit in the vinegar for a long period of time (traditional shrubs need to sit for up to 4 weeks).
What if I Can’t Find Cucumber Soda?
I’m obsessed with the dry sodas from the Dry Soda Company. They are flavorful but have very little added sugar, so they are perfect for making cocktails or spritzers. To see if they are available in your area, visit their website.
If you can’t find cucumber soda, feel free to use a different type of flavored soda like La Croix. Something else you could do is to infuse your shrub with some cucumber slices and cucumber peel and then top your drink with regular soda water. You might have to add more sweetener to get the flavors right though.
I hope you find it as deliciously refreshing as I do!
Strawberry Cucumber Mocktail
This mocktail is the perfect non-alcoholic drink for a summer party or barbecue. It also makes great use of leftover fruit and veggies.
- For the shrub* (yields about ⅓ cup):
- ¼ cup of leftover or bruised strawberries and nectarines (or any other leftover fruit)
- 1 large orange peel (and/or cucumber peel)
- ⅔ cup of apple cider vinegar
- For the cucumber strawberry spritzer:
- 1 tablespoon of shrub (recipe follows)
- 1 teaspoon of simple syrup (or to taste)
- Cucumber or regular soda
- Cucumber slices and strawberries to garnish
- Step 1 Make the shrub: add all of the ingredients for the shrub to a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10-15 mins or until the mixture is reduced by half. Let it cool and strain using a fine-mesh sieve.
- Step 2 Make the spritzer. Add one tablespoon of the shrub and the simple syrup to a tall glass and stir. Top with ice and then with enough cucumber or regular soda to reach the top of the glass. Stir again if necessary. Garnish with cucumber slices and strawberries and serve immediately.
- Step 3 If you would like to turn this into a cocktail, top the ice with some sparkling wine instead of the soda. Just keep in mind that you might need to adjust the amount of simple syrup you put in.
- To make simple syrup you only need to put equal parts water and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pot and stir them together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Wait until it cools and then transfer it to a jar or squeeze bottle. It will keep in the fridge for three months or even longer. Discard the syrup if you notice any white particles or mold floating around.
- Shrubs keep for a long time in the fridge when stored in a clean glass jar. Discard it if you notice any white particles or mold floating around.
*The recipe for this shrub was adapted from the shrub in Ryan Chetiyawardana’s “Paw Broon’s Whisky Sourz” in the Good Together: Drink & Feast with Mr. Lyan and Friends cookbook.
Here are some other refreshing drinks that you might enjoy: